Pakistani rupee weakens sharply in likely devaluation by c.bank

In this file photo, Money dealers count Pakistani rupees, right, and US dollars at a currency exchange in Islamabad on March 12, 2014. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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Pakistani rupee weakens sharply in likely devaluation by c.bank

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s rupee weakened sharply against the dollar on Tuesday in what appeared to be a currency devaluation by the central bank, traders said, the second such intervention in the last three months.
The rupee plunged to about 115.5 per dollar in early trading from 110.5 at Monday’s close, traders said. Abid Qamar, spokesman for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), told Reuters the rupee plunge was a “market driven” event.
However, foreign exchange traders say the central bank’s withdrawal of support for the rupee in daily market operations on Tuesday sent the currency lower.
The SBP devalued the local currency in a similar manner by about 5 percent in December amid balance of payments pressures due to a widening current account deficit and dwindling foreign reserves. The market was broadly expecting another devaluation this year.
“Apparently the central bank withdrew support,” Fawad Khan, head of research at BMA Capital, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Withdrawal of support would have the effect of devaluing the currency as the SBP is the most influential player in the thinly-traded local foreign exchange market and controls what is widely considered a managed float system.
In response to Reuters’ queries about the rupee’s decline on Tuesday, the central bank’s Qamar said it was triggered by “some payment pressures which are building within the market” and added that the central bank would be “observing the market where it is moving toward.”
Pakistan’s economy has been growing at above 5 percent, the fastest pace in a decade, but a surge in imports has widened its current account deficit and prompted analysts to suggest the country may need an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout in the coming 12 months.
“We believe this is much needed as Pakistan’s external account has deteriorated as of late,” the Topline Securities brokerage said in a flash note to clients on Tuesday morning after the rupee weakened.


Wealthy Gulf individuals feel more confident about regional prospects

Updated 25 April 2018
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Wealthy Gulf individuals feel more confident about regional prospects

  • “Factors like the region’s stability, attractive investment opportunities and low-tax environment are seen as the main drivers behind the growing confidence in the region’s economy.”
  • Among the most optimistic were respondents in the UAE, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying they thought the overall outlook was improving.

DUBAI: Survey finds growing optimism on region’s economies, but Saudi investors remain wary.

Wealthy individuals in the Gulf are more optimistic over the future of the region and the global economy compared with last year, and are increasing likely to invest in their own countries and other emerging markets in Asia than in western economies. These are among the main findings of an annual survey by Dubai-based Emirates Investment Bank (EIB), released on Tuesday, of the sentiment among high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the region. 

After two years of falling confidence, some 60 percent of regional HNWIs now believe things will improve or stay the same. Fewer are pessimistic about both regional and global economic prospects than last year, while nearly 80 percent of respondents said they would prefer to invest in Gulf assets, rather than looking abroad.

The recovering oil price was a big reason for the increasing feel-good factor in the Gulf, according to Khalid Sifri, EIB’s chief executive officer, who added: “Factors like the region’s stability, attractive investment opportunities and low-tax environment are seen as the main drivers behind the growing confidence in the region’s economy.”

After falling below $30 per barrel in early 2016, oil has subsequently recovered to a three-and-a-half-year high, breaching the $75 a barrel mark yesterday for the first time since November 2014.

However, the overall optimism of the survey masks some concerns among regional HNWIs; in Saudi Arabia, 48 percent of respondents said that they saw the regional economic situation improving or staying the same, against 52 percent who felt it was likely to worsen in 2018.The survey was conducted last November and December, when investor sentiment in the Kingdom was affected by the high-profile anti-corruption campaign undertaken against some prominent business people accused of financial wrong-doing. “It may have been affected by that. We shall see what the situation is at the end of this year,” Sifri said. 

Respondents from Kuwait were even more pessimistic. None of the respondents from the country felt that things were going to improve on the investment front this year, while 54 percent said they would worsen. Among the most optimistic were respondents in the UAE, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying they thought the overall outlook was improving. On the long-term global outlook, a total of 78 percent of those surveyed across the region were optimistic about prospects over the next five years, with most citing positive economic and political stability as the reason, along with a smaller number who said oil price stabilization would benefit the world economy. The oil price recovery was the biggest reason for regional optimism. 

The geopolitics of the region was claimed as a big factor in deciding investment decisions, but Saudis were less concerned than others. Only 29 percent in the Kingdom said they were influenced by geo-political events, compared with 83 percent in Qatar and 85 percent in the UAE. 

Oil prices, economic reforms and the introduction of VAT were also factors influencing investment, as was the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA. There has been a big shift in global investor orientation outside the GCC. Nearly half of regional wealthy investors (47 percent) are now looking to Asia, 38 percent to the wider Middle East and North Africa, some 34 percent to Europe and only 17 percent to North America. The survey was conducted among 100 HNWIs with $2 million or more in investable assets.